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Choose teacher or the school?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I really need help with school next year for dd (4.5 years old).  She will be starting K next year and we don't know whether to keep her in the school she is now but change classrooms & lead teacher or, change schools.  Both schools we are looking at are Montessori schools.

 

History:

DD started a new Montessori school this year (she attended another M school last year, but we changed schools because we wanted her to attend a school with a primary & elementary program).   For multiple reasons which I won't bother explaining unless someone thinks it may help,  dd did not have a good school year.  The teachers felt that dd may have maturity, auditory & sensory integration issues that impeded her school "work".  I was concerned for several reasons, but mainly because she had already been in a M program and was very happy and did well.    I tried to follow her teachers' lead about how best to help dd transition, but explained that dd did well both socially & academically the year before.  It wasn't until I got her assessed by an OT, audiologist, and had an EIP screener observe her in class that they began to believe me about dd.  Dd does have mild SI but they said it only seems to show up when she is stressed (we followed up with some therapy, but as the OT said, her sensitivities are not bad enough where they would hinder her.  We worked mostly on self-soothing techniques).

 

In addition to the assessments above, I enrolled dd in a Psychology & Med School research test that assessed  for "preschool readiness" (they needed healthy 4-5 year old to test as a control group).  Part of the assessment was the Weschler preschool IQ test.  Her scores were between 2 to 3+ standard deviations above the norm (highest scores were verbal areas).  I mention this only to give you all a better idea of her special needs (along with her mild SI issues).

 

Interestingly, dd has asked to be moved from her classroom to another primary room since last October.  I didn't know why at first, but after watching dd interact with the teacher from this other classroom, I know that they have a great bond and that dd really responds to her.  This other teacher's personality & approach is completely different that the teachers she had this year.  After a problematic year, the principle & teachers agree that she would be best off in this other classroom (this other teacher is also the head teacher for the school and had dealt with many gifted students).  I know that she will do well with this other teacher for her last year of primary.

 

The "issue":

After this last year, I don't know if I want her in this school.  They literally gave us the run around for most of the school year.  Also,they don't have the best "specials" classes.

 

This spring dh & I found another Montessori school which we love. We've also talked to many of the parents who send their children to this Montessori school and they all have wonderful things to say about it.   The school has a great family feel and in addition, they  have great "specials" teachers in art, music, p.e. & environmental science (which dd really loves).  The school is on 7 acres and even have an orchard, organic garden & chickens!  I've met their primary teachers and they seems nice, but honestly, it is hard to tell from limited interaction.

 

So, my question is do I keep dd in the school she is at now, but have her change classroom with this other teacher who I know is excellent and will really help dd thrive?  Or, do I put her in a new school that I feel is a better fit over all, but don';t really know much about the experience or dynamic of their teachers?  If I was making the choice fresh, I would choose the school we liked over all.  But, dd had a really poor year, it has effected her self-esteem in many ways and I worry if she doesn't click with the teachers and is stressed about changing schools it will have a very negative impact on my very sensitive dd.

 

I hope this post isn't too confusing, I'm so worked up, I can't seem to express myself clearly.

 

post #2 of 8

You've observed your dd both with her current teachers who are a poor fit and with the potential teacher who is a good fit. And you know how she is with adults who do and do not mesh well with her. So I'd talk with the new school about having your dd come in and interview her potential teachers. Just a time for her to meet them, ask about the works in their classroom, hear about some of the kids in the class, find out about lunch, and anything else your dd would like to know about the potential new school. And you just observe aside from any support your dd needs (e.g. reminding her of things she said she wanted to know about).

 

Obviously, everyone's going to be on their best behavior as it were, but I think you'd still get a very good idea of whether your dd and the teachers will get on. The teachers will also get an idea of your dd and be able to tell you how they think she'd fit in with the current kids.

 

If it ends up working out best to stay with the current school (your descriptions of how they've handled your dd's difficulties do NOT impress me) then I'd work with the good teacher to figure out who your dd's next teacher should be in a few years. (When I was in elementary school, there was a teacher who was wonderful, but a bit loud, and my teacher the year before made a point of making sure I wasn't in her class because I would've thought she was yelling at me.)

post #3 of 8

is school still in session? Could she do a trial day?

 

My kids attend a private school and a 3 day trial visit is the norm before any new student is accepted. After the visit, the teachers talk to the student and to the students parents to access whether or not the school is a good fit.

 

I agree with saphire_cahn that the way your current school handled this year was unimpressive. She was stressed there, and they weren't interested helping her be comfortable.

post #4 of 8

No matter how wonderful or bad a fit a particular teacher is for a specific student, students generally spend much less time with a given teacher than they do at a specific school. So as a general rule, I tend to lean toward choosing the school, not the teacher.

 

That said, given your DD's "bad year" and what you say about how well she likes the other teacher... If you think one year with this other teacher (despite the issues with the school) could go a long way to overcoming the "bad year" (as far as your DD's love of learning, love of school, etc. goes) I would consider doing one more year at that school with the "good-fit" teacher and then changing schools after that.

 

Another advantage would be finishing the primary cycle without major changes... and starting the next cycle in a new place--keeping the "disruption" to a time that is a natural "transition" (even without changing schools).

 

One thing to think about is how long she would be in the "good-fit" teacher's classroom at most if you didn't change schools. Because if she really loves this teacher, then a good time to change schools is the time when she would leave that teacher no matter what.


Just my 2 cents.

 
post #5 of 8

I'd chose the teacher. A good teacher/student fit is so extremely important in a Montessori setting.

post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ione View Post

No matter how wonderful or bad a fit a particular teacher is for a specific student, students generally spend much less time with a given teacher than they do at a specific school. So as a general rule, I tend to lean toward choosing the school, not the teacher.

 

That said, given your DD's "bad year" and what you say about how well she likes the other teacher... If you think one year with this other teacher (despite the issues with the school) could go a long way to overcoming the "bad year" (as far as your DD's love of learning, love of school, etc. goes) I would consider doing one more year at that school with the "good-fit" teacher and then changing schools after that.

 

Another advantage would be finishing the primary cycle without major changes... and starting the next cycle in a new place--keeping the "disruption" to a time that is a natural "transition" (even without changing schools).

 

One thing to think about is how long she would be in the "good-fit" teacher's classroom at most if you didn't change schools. Because if she really loves this teacher, then a good time to change schools is the time when she would leave that teacher no matter what.

 

 

 

That's kind of what I'd say too.  If you have a teacher that is already known to work well with your DD it seems like this is the least risky option.  So then your DD would only have 1 year left before she's moved up to the next level anyways, right?  That seems like the much better time to move her.  Also, does she have any friends in that classroom?  It sounds like she did have a pretty stressful here between her SI and a bad fit with the teacher but maybe a more gradual transition to the second school would be better then?  Besides the teacher being good is her current school going to accommodate her SI at all?
 

 

post #7 of 8

Your dd's at the end of a cycle? Then I agree with lone and physmom. Another year would also give you more time to evaluate the teachers available at the next level in both schools.

post #8 of 8

Your dd sounds very much like my ds.  It's a hard choice, but I would probably lean toward staying at the same school with a different teacher.  She will be familiar with the school, many of the children, and she seems to have a great rapport with the new teacher.  Plus, you've already "fought the battle" with the school and they are coming around to seeing your dd's talents and needs.  At a new school, unfortunately, you'd have to go through convincing and educating them again.  If this next year doesn't go well, she'll be at the end of a cycle, and you can start anew at the other school for lower el. 

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